By Sondra Barr
Photos courtesy of the Rickey family

As this school year came to a close, two brothers from Glendale marked significant milestones in their academic journeys. Joseph Rickey, the youngest sibling, graduated from kindergarten at Great Hearts Archway Classical Academy Glendale, 23276 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria, while his older brother, Jacob, donned his cap and gown as a senior at Great Hearts Glendale Preparatory Academy, 23276 N. 83rd Ave., Suite 1, Peoria.

For the Rickey family, the year held special significance as they celebrated these two graduations. Their father, Jon Rickey, has been the athletic director at Great Hearts Academies for years, and he had the chance to witness his own children reach major academic milestones together.

Jon recounts some special memories involving his two sons: “There was one funny and one sentimental [moment]. We were at Jacob’s basketball game and Joseph came running up to us to say, ‘You know, the Griffin (Glendale Prep mascot) isn’t real.’ We asked him how he knew that, and he said, ‘I saw his head off in the storage room, he can’t be real!’ It took moments like this for reality to hit. Kindergarteners.”

Jacob had been involved in various extracurricular activities, including football, basketball, drama productions, and being a student mentor during his time at Glendale Prep. As for his brother Joseph, Jacob had been a supportive figure, helping him with homework, teaching him valuable life lessons, and modeling hard work both in the classroom and on the athletic field.

Jon recalls a touching moment from Jacob’s last home football game: “This one still brings some tears to my eyes. For Jacob’s last home football game, and last game of the season in late October, the school had the traditional Senior Night. The extended family walked him onto the field, which is customary, and we had his ceremony. He even scored a 60-yard touchdown on that night! The next morning, he had left early to do his gear turn-in and team meetings. I came to his room, and I saw Joseph in there standing and looking around, very forlornly, in Jacob’s room. I asked him what he was doing, and he said, ‘Well, that’s it, Jacob is now in college, and I won’t see him again.’ I was trying not to laugh and not cry at the same time. It was truly one of the sweetest things, and I’m really not very sentimental. He truly believed that with Jacob’s Senior Night the night before, that he was gone and not coming back!”

Both Joseph, Jacob, and their brother Josh, a sophomore, grew and developed thanks to the support of teachers, staff, and their family’s involvement in the school community. Jon emphasized the importance of teachers who genuinely care for their students and push them to be better.

As Jacob moves on to the next phase of his life, he plans to carry the values of hard work, motivation, and appreciation for educators that he learned at Glendale Prep. He also hopes to give back by coaching sports and mentoring other students, just as his teachers and coaches had done for him.

Reflecting on his sons’ achievements, Jon offers advice for other families, saying, “It is definitely a commitment by all that are involved in the house…Having a full slate of athletics for both middle and high school, along with fine arts and other opportunities, it is well worth the commitment!”

This graduation season, the Rickey family celebrated not just academic accomplishments but also the enduring bond between brothers who had supported and learned from each other throughout their shared educational journey.